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Keeping Your Car Secure

Over half a million people have their cars stolen in the UK every single year. Around 50% of these stolen vehicles are never recovered, and when they are found, they typically have some form of serious damage to them, usually caused by fire or a crash. It is a concerning statistic that car theft and vehicle-related crime accounts for a full 25% of crimes reported in this country.

One common misconception of car theft is that those with old cars are much less likely to have their vehicles stolen, as they are less desirable. Unfortunately, due to the reduced security in some older vehicles, car thieves consider them as easy prey. A new car is likely to come with manufacturer approved security devices such as coded keys and factory immobilisers, preventing hot wiring and other simple methods. However, while older vehicles may appeal more to the opportunist criminal, the professional and serious car thief will consider a range of nefarious techniques to steal modern cars, including simply towing them away.

Valuables left inside a car greatly increase your chance of being a victim of opportunist theft; a mobile phone, a purse or even a packet of cigarettes left inside a car can provide an easy opportunity for a thief. Smashing a window and grabbing the items is usually fairly easy to do - especially with a hammer or chisel - and the thief will usually make a run for it, never to be found. It is also worth keeping your tax disc discreetly displayed, as criminals have been known to steal and doctor these to sell to drivers without adequate insurance or an MoT. Tamper-proof tax disc holders are available from various suppliers.

Car Security

Always detach the front of your stereo when leaving the vehicle, or hide it securely. This can prevent the stereo providing temptation for a prospective thief. If you have an older stereo model that comes out whole, it is worth taking it out at night, when you are working, or at any time that your car is parked for an extended period. The average stereo these days sports a unique identification number, so be sure to make a note of this in case the stereo is stolen.

Simple tips like being careful where you are parking can reduce the possibility of vehicle theft by as much as 70%. There are many Registered Secure Car Parks throughout the country; but if there isn’t one near you, try to park in a busy area, with good lighting. Alternatively, try to park as close to your house as possible, setting up security lights to alert you to any suspicious activity.

Car theft is also a common result of burglary; car keys are often kept in the hallway of a house, making them a very easy target for criminals, and providing them with a getaway vehicle in the process. Insurers tend not to look kindly on these types of theft, so make sure your car keys are fairly well hidden away.

Finally, it is worth considering an anti-theft alarm or lock. A seasoned car thief will be able to disarm a cheap steering wheel or handbrake lock very quickly, so try to get a Thatcham approved lock – this means it has been approved by the motor insurance industry’s security research centre.